Softball: 805 Elite 14U readies for Nationals

Pictured are members of the 805 Elite 14U softball team. In the back row, from left to right, is Briana Deras, MiKaylee Gordon, Ella Stennett, Paige Mitchell, Sis Rodriguez, Melania Ruelas, Hailey Hicks, Rose Guerra and Roxanne Guerra. In the front row, from left to right, is Desi Marroquin, Aalia Torres, Alyssa Martinez, Brooklyn Neenan and Savannah Ruelas. The team's coaches are Johnnie Martinez, Gil Ruelas and Luis Deras.

805 Elite 14U shortstop Sis Rodriguez fielded a ground ball, threw to first baseman Hailey Hicks for the last out and the squad's years-long goal was realized.

The team, which consists of softball players from Paso Robles south to Guadalupe and Santa Maria, finished a 3-0 run through the double elimination Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) nationals qualifier in Salinas with a 2-1 win over Explosion-Webb Whetton.

The 805 Elite 14U squad will compete with 67 others at the double elimination age group PGF Nationals that will take place in Southern California the first week in August.

"These girls have been together since 2017, and it has always been a goal of ours to qualify as a team for a national tournament," said Johnnie Martinez, the team's head coach.

"The players have worked very hard. They bought into the process, the parents bought into the process and now here we are, about to go to a national tournament."

Martinez said the national tourney will take place at multiple sites in Huntington Beach and Irvine.

The 805 team eased through its first two games at the qualifier, winning the first 8-3 (that one was called in the sixth inning because of the two-hour tournament time limit) and winning the second 12-2. That one was halted after five innings because of the run rule.

The locals took a 1-0 lead against Explosion-Webb Whetton, saw the designated visitors tie it then Alyssa Martinez, Johnnie's daughter, snapped the tie when she singled in Desi Marroquin from second base. Marroquin doubled earlier in the inning.

The visitors loaded the bases against Roxanne Guerra, who helped the team to the championship by hitting three tournament home runs and pitching three complete games, with no outs in the seventh.

Hicks dove and caught a soft line drive then threw to second baseman Savannah Ruelas, who was covering, to double the runner off first. Rodriguez subsequently gloved a ground ball and fired the ball to Hicks for the last out.

"Everybody hit for us during the tournament," said Johnnie Martinez. "Everyone helped win the title."

With the COVID-19 case picture as a whole in California brightening for months, "No one had to wear a mask," at the said Johnnie Martinez. "That felt really good."

Martinez said his group's team workouts take place at Arroyo Grande.

"Once we were allowed to practice as a unit, we practiced together four or five Sundays before the (qualifier)," said Martinez.

"We have some high school players, and they had high school (workout) limitations. The other girls worked out on their own some," before the team got the go-ahead to work out as a squad.

The other 805 14U coaches are Gil Ruelas, whose daughters, Savannah and Melania Ruelas, plays for the 805 national qualifiers, and Luis Deras. Luis Deras has a daughter, Briana Deras, on the team.

"On paper, I'm the head coach," Johnnie Martinez said with a chuckle. "We all have a say."

The 805 player roster includes Hicks, Rodriguez, Marroquin, Roxanne Guerra, Rose Guerra, Savannah Ruelas, Melania Ruelas, Briana Deras, Alyssa Martinez, Mikaylee Gordon, Ella Stennett, Paige Mitchell, Aalia Torres and Brooklyn Neenas.

The team is holding various fund-raising events for its trip to the nationals. Anyone interested in purchasing an event ticket and/or becoming a team's sponsor can visit the squad's Instagram and Facebook pages.

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